Need Legal Aid Help? Get Started

Legal Aid establishes Extend Justice Fund at Cleveland Foundation

Posted July 10, 2024
11:32 am

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland is pleased to announce the creation of a new Legal Aid organizational fund at the Cleveland Foundation. This new Extend Justice Fund was seeded using the one-time $2.5 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Legal Aid was honored to receive this special investment from Ms. Scott in late 2023 through her charitable organization Yield Giving. This unsolicited gift is the largest one-time gift in Legal Aid’s 119-year history. When this gift was announced, Legal Aid was the only civil justice organization in Ohio and among only a few legal aids in the United States recognized by Ms. Scott with a major gift.

Given the significance of this gift and its incredible potential to broaden Legal Aid’s work, Legal Aid’s Board of Directors worked to thoughtfully identify how to use this one-time investment so it can have the greatest and most sustainable impact on the client community Legal Aid serves. The creation of the Extend Justice Fund at the Cleveland Foundation was the highest and best use of this one-time major gift, allowing for long-term benefits.

The Cleveland Foundation’s proven strong investment stewardship will ensure the generous gift from Ms. Scott continues to grow and advance Legal Aid’s mission. Ultimately, this will allow Legal Aid to amplify the impact of this original investment and draw on this generosity well into the future.

The Extend Justice Fund will support long-term the vital work that aligns with Legal Aid’s new strategic plan, inaugurated in 2023. This plan’s goals include:

  • Make systems better for Legal Aid’s clients, including establishing the infrastructure for systems change work to achieve long-term equity and justice;
  • Build Legal Aid’s staff skills and capacity to better fulfill Legal Aid’s mission, including:
    • Becoming more human-centered, trauma-informed, and responsive to Legal Aid clients and client communities,
    • Establish an anti-racist practice, and
    • Align Legal Aid’s culture and infrastructure with Legal Aid’s core values, impact areas, and strategic goals;
  • And, leveraging community resources to amplify Legal Aid’s impact, including establishing reciprocal relationships and partnerships with Legal Aid clients and client communities to increase impact, and deepening reciprocal relationships and partnerships with organizations to increase impact.

Legal Aid will achieve these goals while addressing issues to:

  • Improve safety and health: Secure safety for survivors of domestic violence and other crimes, increase access to health care, improve health and safety of homes, and mitigate the social determinants of health.
  • Promote economic security and education: Increase access to quality education, increase income and assets, reduce debt, and reduce disparities in income and wealth.
  • Secure stable and decent housing: Increase availability and accessibility of affordable housing, improve housing stability, and improve housing conditions.
  • Improve accountability and accessibility of the justice system and government entities: Increase meaningful access to courts and government agencies, decrease financial barriers to the courts, and increase access to justice for self-represented litigants.

The Cleveland Foundation and Legal Aid have a longstanding partnership, which has been vital in implementing and expanding critical efforts like Legal Aid’s work through Cleveland’s Right to Counsel. This new extension of our partnership will help Legal Aid achieve new heights in its work to address the greatest needs of our community and make Northeast Ohio a more just place for all.

Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation – and one of the largest today. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking and providing leadership on vital issues. For more information, visit and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, founded in 1905, secures justice, equity, and access to opportunity for and with people who have low incomes through passionate legal representation and advocacy for systemic change.  Last year, the organization served more than 24,000 people through cases handled, and thousands more through its community legal education, outreach and advocacy. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Threads.


Quick Exit